Rami's Blog

Like the Yin-Yang, Eastern Martial Arts and Western medicine are two halves of a whole. My mission is to preserve the ancient mind-body tools, and pass them on to you.

 

Meditative Shaking and Pulsing: Complete Series

The following is an excerpt from my book Sunset Tai Chi: Simplified Tai Chi for Relaxation and Longevity


This week, we complete the series on meditative shaking and pulsing! It has been five quick weeks of exploring the body through the movement of energy and the joints. Today, we do a quick overview of each of the steps we took, and then give some final words about the technique.

Introduction

In the first part of our series, we introduced meditative shaking and pulsing as an alternative to the traditional western-style warm-ups. We talked about how this technique jumpstarts the energetic system and prepares our whole being for a great session of mind-body medicine such as Tai Chi. We also reviewed the movement types that you can create through the joints, and how gently you should be doing this exercise. 

Remember the rule of thumb! If a joint is tense and you want to create isolated pulsing and pumping in it, you need to move the joint above that joint.

Fingers, Wrists and Elbows

In the second installment, we got right into the specific joint techniques, beginning with the upper limbs. We learned how to feel the difference between the sensations of the fingers, from the largest joints (the thumbs) to the smallest (the pinkies).

We covered pulsing through the wrists by focusing on the elbows, and explored all the different angles of motion the wrist has.

And then we discussed how to shake the elbows using the shoulders, and how they a very limited range of motions in comparison to the wrist.

Yin & Yang Layers in the Shoulders

We spent the entire third part of the series on finding all the various sensations and movements you can create in the shoulders by using this technique. Because there is no real joint "above" the shoulders, we shake them by gently pumping the feet against the floor.

Remember the important tip! Make the force of the pumping with the feet moves through the knees, and into the floor, not into the knees, which can be very painful and cause joint issues.

We went over the three postures you can take while pulsing the shoulders, and how to do each one most effectively.

Ankles, Knees and Hips

For part four in the meditative shaking series, we started from the ground and worked up, pulsing the ankles, knees, and hips. For the ankles, we went in-depth about the importance of proper weight distribution and and alignment for seeing results and avoiding injury.

When talking about the knees, we told you a cool trick you can do if you are an experienced practitioner and you have a wooden floor to practice on. (If you missed it, go check it out!)

And finally, we covered the hips, which also have three major postures similar to the shoulders. We went over each posture, and also mentioned that you can isolate one hip joint at a time if you wanted, just like you could do with the shoulders.

Spine, Neck, Jaw and Soft Tissue

For the last review of unique areas to pulse and shake, we covered the central joints of the body as well as the soft tissue. We told you a tip for dividing up the spine into three sections (lumbar, thoracic, and cervical are most helpful) to more effectively pulse all through the entire spine during your practice.

Remember our advice about the neck! You should be especially gentle with the neck, for two reasons. Not only is it of key importance to avoid injury in the neck, which can cause all sorts of problems, but secondly, many many people hold a lot of tension in the neck from years of being stressed, hunched over, or both. All of this tension will not go away in one day, so it is very important to take small steps and make gradual progress in the meditative pulsing and shaking of the neck.

We also reminded you that the jaw is a joint too, and showed you how to make pulsing motions in it.

And finally, we talked about how, with experience, one can move the shaking and pulsing energy from this practice not only into the joints, but also into the soft tissues, such as the muscles, fascia, skin, and even closer to the bones.

Conclusion

Sense the pulse, the pump, and the shaking throughout the whole body. Scan the joints. Some people like to pulse, pump, or shake gently and others like to pulse, pump, or shake a little more strongly. Most people will find that at various times they may enjoy the two methods mixed, the slow and the fast, according to the time and the need.

When you perform this mind/body prescription during sunset, allow the sun to warm your joints while drawing your aches and pains from the joints. When doing the meditative shaking, put your mind a few inches away from the joint you are working on. By putting the mind away from the joint, the impurities will be led away from the joint and the pulling energy of the setting sun will do the rest of the pulling and dissolving. When you practice the meditative shaking during sunset, you will experience a strong sensation that will be hard to achieve without the setting sun. This strong sensation is your guardian energy or what I call the energetic bubble. Do not wait only for this time of the day to perform the meditative shaking. This mind/body prescription needs to be performed at least twice a day.

Do the meditative shaking for three to five minutes every day. Remember that when performing the meditative shaking, keep breathing deeply through the nose, and keep the tongue touching the roof of the mouth except when pulsing the jaw. Once you finish the meditative shaking, you should stand still or sit on the edge of the chair, and for three to five minutes put your mind in your center of gravity energy center or lower energy center to allow the energy you built up to be led into the center and to strengthen and upgrade your lower energy center while still noticing the patches of heat throughout the joints. Lead your mind from the four gates, the tips of the fingers and toes, into the lower energy center. You can also nourish the bones by leading the energy from the patches of heat inward into the joints and from there you can then move into the bones.

Once you are comfortable with this mind/body prescription, bring in the other building blocks: the breath, mind, energy, and spirit. Evoke spirituality by putting the mind into the three forces: heaven, human, and earth. It is a process that is called 'unification of the three forces.' There are other ways to evoke spirituality. You can use your own religious symbols or you can use the spirit of nature, such as a tree. Your arms can be the branches and they are shaking and becoming loose, gently in the wind.

Many people will testify how comfortable on both physical and mental levels they feel after performing this meditative shaking. They also express how relaxed they feel after this mind/body prescription. Pulsing, pumping, bouncing, and shaking are part of natural movements and performing them allows us to connect to nature in a new, interesting, and energetic way. In my personal experience with some of my students, the meditative shaking may have the strong effect of increasing bone density, but it is not scientifically proven yet. Some individuals get some of this pulsing and pumping motions while performing 'embrace the tree' (Yi Chuan) standing meditation.


And that's the entire meditative shaking and pulsing series! See you all again next week!

Happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

Meditative Shaking and Pulsing: Part 4, Moving the Ankles, Knees, and Hips

The following is an excerpt from my book Sunset Tai Chi: Simplified Tai Chi for Relaxation and Longevity


Check out the previous blogs we have done to find the intro to shaking and pulsing, as well as the guide to shaking and pulsing the finger, wrists, elbows, and shoulders.

Ankles

Once you finish with the arms, move to the ankles and try to pulse through the ankles. Pulsing the leg joints will create different sensations. The arms do not bear weight but we do bear weight through the legs, and that totally changes the sensations.

Alignment and weight distribution are the keys to accessing all the ligaments in the ankles. First, we have four major ligaments that we want to create an even stress on between the foot and the bottom part of our leg; two ligaments in the front and two in the back. If you have the weight on the ball of the foot, you will feel the stress on the front ligaments while the back ones will be loose or free of stress. Now if you shift your weight to the heels, you will change the sensations of stress. The heels will now bear the weight that will generate stress on the back ligaments and will loosen the two front ones. If you allow the soles of the feet to collapse sideways, you will lose the alignment and lose the ability to isolate the pulsing in those four ligaments.

Make sure you distribute the weight in the middle of each sole of the foot. Do not collapse inward or push outward. Maintain the alignment, and then enjoy the pulsing, pumping, and shaking to a much higher level. While doing so, you also will be preventing injuries. Alignment of the ankle is very important. Much practice and work in the different postures and movements needs to be done to understand and experience the ankle.

Knees

Next, move into the knees. Make sure you bounce the weight through the knees, right into the floor, and not into the knees. If you do it right, and your weight moves through the knees into the floor, you may be able to vibrate the whole floor of the room. You need wood floors to make this happen. If the weight moves into the knees, you will not be able to create that vibration of the wood floors. Moving weight into the knees is not good for them. The knees are not meant to be weight-bearing joints.

Hips

Then move to the hips. They, like the shoulders, have many strong and different sensations. The reasons are first, both the shoulders and the hips are the biggest joints in our body; second, the hips and the shoulders have the most range of motion in contrast to all the other joints in the body. The three major postures or positions that allow us to sense the various different sensations in the hips are as follows:

First posture: While pulsing and pumping, bring the pelvis forward by tucking in the tailbone.

Second posture: While pulsing and pumping, stick the tailbone back and slightly out. You are coming out of alignment in this posture but in this case it is okay.

Third posture: Once you pulsed and pumped with the pelvis back and in the front, find the middle between the two, dropping the tailbone down but not tucked in like the first posture, and not pushed back like the second.

Of course, again, like the shoulders, each hip joint can be isolated by itself. By shifting all your weight to the left leg, you can isolate the right hip joint or you can direct the pulsing to the left hip joint with the weight on the right leg.

These exercises give you a way to create different sensations in the hips. Over time, you should find and explore other postures that lead to other sensations and new experiences.

Next week, we will give you the how-to for shaking the spine, neck, and jaw.

Happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

Meditative Shaking and Pulsing: Part 1, an Introduction

The following is an excerpt from my book Sunset Tai Chi: Simplified Tai Chi for Relaxation and Longevity


Western exercise starts with warming up by increasing the heart rate to saturate the muscles with blood and oxygen. Therefore, we can say that Western warm-ups focus first on the heart and muscles. On the other hand, Eastern exercise starts by charging and igniting the energetic system and then the rest of the body. You can charge the energetic system in more than one way.

One of the ways to jumpstart the energetic system is by creating a gentle movement in the joints or in the ligaments. This skill of isolating the ligaments and creating movements in them is actually part of our natural day-to-day physical behavior. It happens whenever we use our arms and hands. It is helpful to refine this skill and train our ability to isolate this skill in whatever part of the body we choose. 

In order to achieve this isolation, we need to first understand the various physical motions, and second, be able to put into actions these motions: pulsing, pumping, and shaking. Each of these words is important because each one affects the body and the energy differently, which creates different sensations and experiences.

Pulsing can be created though gentle up and down movements or gentle in and out motions, and with small side to side movements. It is a great way to loosen up. Pumping is a stronger movement than pulsing, although the actions of up and down, in and out, and side to side are similar. Shaking combines side to side first and then some in and out motion with a gentle up and down. All three have a gentle rotation that can be added to each one while they are happening.

You need to understand that each one is different and over time, you will experience the differences as well. This exercise (meditative shaking) will activate your energetic system, remove some stagnation, and can also serve as a good warm-up. Even if you only have five minutes, doing this meditation will go a long way.

When you shake, you may notice that the fingers are tense. This next piece of information is essential for loosening this tension. Move the joint above the one you want to isolate. For example, if you want to loosen the finger joints, shake the wrist, but put your mind on the fingers. Try to isolate this gentle movement in your joints, rather than moving the muscles or tendons. To loosen the wrist, move the elbow. Remember, your jaw is a joint as well. When practiced correctly, you will begin to feel patches of warmth in your joints and some warmth in your internal organs or lower energy center.

Next week, we will give you the how-to for shaking the upper limb joints: fingers, wrists, elbows, and shoulders!

Happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!